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Poverty issue in Pakistan

According to an analysis conducted by the government of Pakistan and published at hec. Gov .pk(the higher education commission of Pakistan) shows that the poverty has increased roughly from 30% to 40% during the past decade. Consider that if 40%of a country’s population is earning their life below the poverty-line in which the people are deprived of basic necessities of life such as clothing, shelter,food, education and medication, such families and their children will be forced to think of their survival only.

Poverty in Pakistan is difficult to quantify. In 2006, the methodology used by the Pakistani government to estimate those living in poverty was challenged by the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP). At that time, the government estimate was that 23.9 per cent of the population lived below the poverty line but the independent organisations assessed the figure in the range of 25.7 - 28.3 per cent.Those independent bodies supported estimates of a considerable fall in the statistic by the 2007-08 fiscal year, when it was estimated that 17.2% of the total population lived below the poverty line. The declining trend in poverty as seen in the country during the 1970s and 1980s was reversed in the 1990s by poor federal policies and rampant corruption. This phenomenon has been referred to as the "poverty bomb". In 2001, the government was assisted by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in preparing the Interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper that suggests guidelines to reduce poverty in the country. Pakistan fares better than India and Bangladesh on most poverty markers such as the UN MPI index and its poverty rate is below those nations.

As of 2009, Pakistan's Human Development Index (HDI) is 0.572, higher than that of nearby Bangladesh's 0.543, which was formerly a part of the country itself. Pakistan's HDI still stands lower than that of neighbouring India's at 0.612.

According to the HDI, 60.3% of Pakistan's population lives on under $2 a day, compared to 75.6% in nearby India and 81.3% in nearby Bangladesh, and some 22.6% live under $1 a day, compared to 41.6% in India and 49.6% in Bangladesh.

Wealth distribution in Pakistan is highly uneven, with the top 10% of the population earning 27.6% and the bottom 10% earning only 4.1 of the income According to the United Nations Human Development Report, Pakistan's human development indicators, especially those for women, fall significantly below those of countries with comparable levels of per-capita income. Pakistan also has a higher infant mortality rate (88 per 1000) than the South Asian average (83 per 1000).

At the time of partition and independence in 1947, Pakistan inherited the most backward parts of South Asia with only one university, one Textile Mill and one Jute Factory. The country has made tremendous progress and its per Capita GNP remains the highest in South Asia. During the last decade poverty elimination programs helped many of the poor to participate and rise up. However the Global financial crisis and other factors like the occupation of Afghanistan have impacted Pakistani growth. Poverty in Pakistan has historically been higher in rural areas and lower in the cities. Out of the total 40 million living below the poverty line, 30 million live in rural areas. Poverty rose sharply in the rural areas in the 1990s and the gap in income between urban and rural areas of the country became more significant. This trend has been attributed to a disproportionate impact of economic events in the rural and urban areas. Punjab also has significan gradients in poverty among the different regions of the province.

The North West Frontier Province of Pakistan was one of the most backward regions of the South Asian Subcontinent. Despite this, tremendous progress has been made in many areas. The NWFP now boasts several universities including the Ghulam Ishaq Khan University of Science and Technology.Peshawar a sleep cantonment during British towns is a modern cosmopolitan city. Much more can be done to invest in the social and economic structures. NWFP remains steeped in tribal culture, though the biggest Pathan city is Karachi where the Pakhtuns are one of the richest class of people. The Pakhtuns of the region are heavily involved in the transportation, lumber, furniture and small arts and crafts business. Some deal in cross border arms and drugs smuggling. This smuggling actively encouraged by the West and by Pakistan during the Soviet invasion of neighboring Afghanistan is intact and according to Western reports supported the Taliban regime These and other activities have led to a breakdown of law and order in many parts of the region.

Poverty and gender

The gender discriminatory practices in Pakistani society also shape the distribution of poverty in the country. Traditional gender roles in Pakistan define the woman's place as in the home and not in the workplace, and define the man as the breadwinner. Consequently, the society invests far less in women than men. Women in Pakistan suffer from poverty of opportunities throughout their lives. Female literacy in Pakistan is 43.6% compared to Male literacy at 68.2%, as of 2008. In legislative bodies, women constituted less than 3% of the legislature elected on general seats before 2002. The 1973 Constitution allowed reserved seats for women in both houses of parliament for a period of 20 years, thus ensuring that women would be represented in parliament regardless of whether or not they are elected on general seats. This provision lapsed in 1993, so parliaments elected subsequently did not have reserved seats for women. Reserved seats for women have been restored after the election of 2002 . Female labour rates in Pakistan are exceptionally low.

Economic and social vulnerability

Un-Employment Rates

Administrative Unit

1998 Census

1981 Census

Both Sexes

Male

Female

Pakistan

19.68

20.19

5.05

3.1

Rural

19.98

20.40

5.50

2.3

Urban

19.13

19.77

4.49

5.2

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

26.83

27.51

2.58

2.2

Rural

28.16

28.64

4.00

2.0

Urban

21.00

22.34

0.74

3.7

Punjab

19.10

19.60

5.50

3.2

Rural

18.60

19.00

6.00

2.5

Urban

20.10

20.7

4.70

5.0

Sindh

14.43

14.86

4.69

3.3

Rural

11.95

12.26

3.70

1.6

Urban

16.75

17.31

5.40

5.8

Balochistan

33.48

34.14

8.67

3.1

Rural

35.26

35.92

9.81

3.0

Urban

27.67

28.33

5.35

4.0

Islamabad

15.70

16.80

1.70

10.7

Rural

28.70

29.40

8.20

13.5

Urban

10.10

11.00

0.80

9.0

Unemployment Rate:

                     It is the percentage of persons unemployed (those looking for work and temporarily laid off) to the total economically active population (10 years and above).

Vulnerability:

                "Vulnerability" in this case stands for the underlying susceptibility of economically deprived people to fall into poverty as a result of exogenous random shocks. Vulnerable households are generally found to have low expenditure levels. Households are considered vulnerable if they do not have the means to smooth out their expenses in response to changes in income. In general, vulnerability is likely to be high in households clustered around the poverty line. Since coping strategies for vulnerable households depend primarily on their sources of income, exogenous shocks can increase reliance on non-agricultural wages. Such diversification has not occurred in many parts of Pakistan, leading to an increased dependence on credit.

While economic vulnerability is a key factor in the rise of poverty in Pakistan, vulnerability also arises from social powerlessness, political disenfranchisement, and ill-functioning and distortionary institutions, and these also are important causes of the persistence of vulnerability among the poor.

Other causes of vulnerability in Pakistan are the everyday harassment by corrupt government officials, as well as their underperformance, exclusion and denial of basic rights to many in Pakistan. Also, lack of adequate health care by the state lead the poor to seek private sources, which are expensive, but still preferable to the possibility of medical malpractice and being given expired medicines in state run medical facilities. Also, the failure by the state to provide adequate law and order in many parts of the country is a factor in the rise of vulnerability of the poor. 

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